ALEXANDRIA, Ind - Six weeks after the Alexandria Police Department was forced to take their K-9 Officer off duty because of a broken-down vehicle, the South Bend Police Department is stepping up to meet the department’s need.
“We’re extremely grateful to the city of South Bend and the South Bend Police Department that they stepped up and saw that we had a need and then saw that they could fill it,” said Alexandria Police Chief, Matt Ellis.
South Bend Police are planning to donate a spare 2009 Dodge Charger so Alexandria Police K-9 Officer “Riggs” can have a permanent ride and continue his duties.
Riggs and his handler have been able to work out of a loaner vehicle from the Madison County Sheriff’s Department for the last several weeks. But the donated car will ensure that Riggs will be able to perform his important job for the next couple years.
Chief Ellis says Riggs is an invaluable member of his department at a time when officers are continually encountering rampant drug activity.
“Friday night, I was actually out with Riggs on a traffic stop and they found methamphetamine and marijuana,” Ellis said.
The donated vehicle will come already equipped with everything needed for a K-9 unit, including a special kennel for Riggs to ride in and an extra fan in the back to keep Riggs cool during hot weather. The car has roughly 80,000 miles on it.
Chief Ellis hopes to get at least two years of service out of the car before looking to purchase the department’s next vehicle.
Fundraising efforts are already underway for that purpose, including donations from the community, selling food at community events, and recycling cans in a dumpster donated by Ray’s Trash Service.
Ellis hopes to have the donated car in Alexandria within the next week. Once the car from South Bend is brought to Alexandria, the radio will need to be switched out, and the department’s paint and decals will have to be redone. Thankfully, Ellis says those projects should not be a problem to pay for.
“The gentleman that does the stripes and the decals for our vehicles is going to donate his time to put the decals on for free,” Ellis said.
Ellis hopes the department’s next budget will include a line item for another K-9 vehicle, to eventually replace the one being donated from South Bend. Meantime, he says he’s grateful or the generosity of South Bend Police.
“It feels really good,” Ellis said. “It’s nice to know that we’re not on an island by ourselves and everyone around the state is trying to help each other out and do what we can.”